Help and Support Center provides a centralized facility through which users can obtain assistance on a variety of topics. For instance, it provides product documentation, assistance in determining hardware compatibility, access to Windows Update, online help from Microsoft, and other assistance.
A security vulnerability is present in the Windows XP version of Help and Support Center, and results because a file intended only for use by the system is instead available for use by any web page. The purpose of the file is to enable anonymous upload of hardware information, with the userís permission, so that Microsoft can evaluate which devices users are not currently finding device drivers for. This information is then used to work with hardware vendors and device teams to improve the quality and quantity of drivers available in Windows. By design, after attempting to upload an XML file containing the hardware information, the system deletes it.
An attacker could exploit the vulnerability by constructing a web page that, when opened, would call the errant function and supply the name of an existing file or folder as the argument. The attempt to upload the file or folder would fail, but the file nevertheless would be deleted. The page could be hosted on a web site in order to attack users visiting the site, or could be sent as an HTML mail in order to attack the recipient when it was opened